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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael P. Kelly today announced the launch of "Play Ball Chicago," an online fundraiser designed to raise funds to increase participation in inner city youth baseball and softball in Chicago's parks.
"The success of Jackie Robinson West has inspired young people all over Chicago to play baseball, and it is important that every child has an opportunity to play, no matter their neighborhood or economic background," said Mayor Emanuel. “We’ve been making investments in parks and programming across Chicago; this online fundraising campaign will complement these investments by making sure kids interested in playing organized baseball have the uniforms and equipment they need.”
The goal of the campaign is to raise $125,000 in effort ensure that America's favorite pastime continues to grow in Chicago's parks. Each donation will have a tangible benefit to girls and boys youth baseball and softball participants. Currently, more than 50,000 youth in Chicago participate in baseball and softball annually at more than 80 Chicago Park District parks.
"Everybody wins with youth sports," said Superintendent Kelly. "These funds will improve the experience and help increase the number of girls and boys that we are able to reach with the game of baseball."
Suggested funding amounts range from $50- $2,500, but all donations are welcome and donors may choose to contribute any amount of money. Donations will fund gloves, helmets, uniforms, equipment and general ball field maintenance. Donations can be made at https://www.crowdrise.com/playballchicago/fundraiser/chicagoparksfoundation.
Donations to "Play Ball Chicago" will be managed by the Chicago Parks Foundation, a 501c3, which aims to preserve Chicago’s public parks, enhance the park visitor experience and build a community dedicated to conserving the parks for a healthier lifestyle and improved quality of life.
Last week, Mayor Emanuel announced a $6 million Park District capital investment to fund new artificial turf fields at Palmer Park, Tuley Park and Jackie Robinson Park to help ensure that games can be played more consistently after rain and over longer seasons. Additionally, the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs are investing a total of $500,000 to allow for an expansion of baseball and softball programming.
For more information about the Chicago Park District’s more than 8,100 acres of parkland, more than 580 parks, 26 miles of lakefront, nine museums, two world-class conservatories, 16 historic lagoons, nearly 50 nature areas, thousands of special events, sports and entertaining programs, please visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com or contact the Chicago Park District at 312.742.PLAY or 312.747.2001 (TTY). Want to share your talent? Volunteer in the parks by calling, 312.742.PLAY.